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Hire Brian Pittman and save the Eugenia Williams house

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

Time is not on the side of abandoned buildings, so the University of Tennessee needs to stop dithering over the Eugenia Williams house and hire architect Brian Scott Pittman to figure out what to do with it.

Pittman (also known as The Cathedral Guy for his intricate pen-and-ink drawings of imaginary cathedrals) has known what he wanted to do with his life since he was 5 years old and spelled architect with a K. He fell in love with the Eugenia Williams house when he was 10 and has been collecting information about it since he was 20.

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Incentives high for job creation

Sandra Clark

A good deal awaits jobs-producing business growth just up the road in Union County.

Gov. Bill Haslam and the state’s Department of Economic and Community Development, headed by Knoxville guy Randy Boyd, have reclassified Tennessee counties to create a designation that helps rural counties recruit new business. In 17 so-called “tier four” counties, the state will double down on incentives.

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Armstrong conviction sends ripples through District 15

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

When one person holds political office for almost 30 years, folks fall out of the habit of running for the job. And when a man as generally respected as former state Rep. Joe Armstrong goes to trial just days after the primary, folks are hesitant to challenge him, not knowing the outcome and hoping for the best.

Thus, the Republicans did not field a candidate in District 15, and after Armstrong’s Aug. 8 conviction of filing a false income tax report, it was too late for the GOP to select a nominee. Only former Rep. Pete Drew, who held office as both a Democrat and Republican and then left town for decades, had qualified to oppose Armstrong. Drew qualified as an independent.

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More on Dave Hart’s departure

Victor Ashe
Government/Politics columnist

There has been widespread speculation as to what caused Dave Hart to retire now as UT athletic director effective June 30, 2017.

With numerous off-the-record inquiries, this writer has determined it was a result of an honest disagreement between Hart and UT President Joe DiPietro over the best response to the Title IX lawsuits over gender discrimination in the Athletic Department.

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‘Having a goal can change your life’

Betty Bean
Government/Politics columnist

Before Matt de la Peña told his audience about his transformation from reluctant reader to award-winning author, he said he hoped they wouldn’t mind if he used them as a backdrop. They didn’t.

So the lanky literary star of young adult fiction turned around on the stage of the Tennessee Amphitheater, faced the convention center’s gleaming back side, and held his cell phone high, thus establishing an instant connection with the 400-plus L&N STEM Academy students in the bleachers.

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Small investments over long haul help cities build wealth

Wendy Smith
Government/Politics columnist

Chuck Marohn, founder and president of Strong Towns, hails from Minnesota. But he used a Tennessee landmark − the Pyramid in Memphis − as an example of “dumb” development that threatens the financial health of cities.

The mission of Strong Towns is to support a model of development that allows America’s cities, towns and neighborhoods to become financially strong and resilient. Marohn was keynote speaker at last week’s fall conference of the Tennessee Chapter of the American Planning Association and the Tennessee Section of the Institute of Transportation Engineers.

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